ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Ryan Hartman and Sam Steel scored short-handed goals 20 seconds apart in the first period and the Minnesota Wild earned two key late-season points by beating the St. Louis Blues 5-3 on Saturday night.
Freddy Gaudreau, Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin also scored to help the Wild end a three-game skid, its longest in two months. Filip Gustavsson made 37 saves. Back after missing 13 games with a lower-body injury, Minnesota All-Star Kirill Kaprizov was kept off the score sheet, but still leads the team with 39 goals and 72 points.
With 100 points, Minnesota pulled into a tie with Colorado, two points behind Central Division-leading Dallas. However, the Avalanche have five games left, including at Los Angeles later Saturday, while the Stars and Wild each have three left.
“You want to be rolling going into playoffs. We didn’t love our performance the last couple games,” Steel said. “I thought we played really good for the most part. We had a couple lapses, but the two points is the most important thing.”
Pavel Buchnevich, Sammy Blais and Jake Neighbours scored for the Blues, and Justin Faulk had two assists. Jordan Binnington finished with 24 saves. St. Louis, out of playoff contention, is 6-3-1 in its past 10 games.
Down 4-1 entering the third period, Neighbours and Buchnevich got the Blues within one with 12 minutes to play, but Brodin added an empty-net goal for Minnesota to seal the win.
On March 15, Binnington was ejected and later suspended for two games without pay for hitting Hartman in the face with his blocker following Hartman’s goal. Wild goalie Marc-Andre Fleury skated down to fight Binnington but was held back by an official.
Down 1-0 midway through the first period, Hartman quickly energized the crowd. Forcing a turnover in the neutral zone, the Wild center chased the loose puck across the St. Louis blue line. Binnington raced out and made a belly slide to get to the puck first, but Hartman was a split-second quicker poking the puck to the left of the goalie, chasing it down and scoring into an open net. He then gave a finger wag toward the crowd.
“We were down a goal, so it was nice to get a quick jumpstart. I wasn’t thinking about anything besides trying to win a game,” Hartman said.
“What we’ve liked about Hartzy for a while now is his ability to get up the ice,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “He’s skating extremely well. Shows obviously on the two shorthanded goals how he separated. He moves his feet like he’s a very good player. Hard to handle.”
Twenty seconds later, Hartman laid a big hit on Kasperi Kapanen, corralled a loose puck and fed Steel in the slot for a quick backhand-to-forehand move and a 2-1 lead. Hartman’s two short-handed points in 20 seconds or fewer was last done by Colorado’s Peter Forsberg - 11 seconds on Dec. 3, 1995.
The two short-handed goals - quickest in the league since Boston scored twice in 15 seconds on April 10, 2010 - pushed the Wild season total to 13, tying the franchise record set in 2000-01. Only Edmonton (17) and Vancouver (14) have more this season.
“Obviously, can’t be giving up two on one power play and expect to win a hockey game, said St. Louis center Brayden Schenn.
Gaudreau made it 3-1 with a second-period power-play goal and Spurgeon scored with 34.5 seconds left in the middle frame.
Acquired from Columbus on Feb. 28, LW Gustav Nyquist (shoulder) had two assists in his Wild debut. ... Wild C Oskar Sundqvist did not play after leaving Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury. ... St. Louis C Robert Thomas was back after missing five games with an upper-body injury. ... Wild C Mason Shaw, who tore his right ACL for the second time April 1, said he’ll have reconstructive surgery next week. He’s also torn his left ACL twice.
Blues: Home to Dallas on Wednesday night.
Wild: At Chicago on Monday night.
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